Monday, August 31, 2020

‘US Ambassador’s Claims Baseless’

01 SEP, 2020 - 00:09 

Herald Reporter

The Government yesterday called to order the United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Brian Nichols for violating the Vienna Convention which governs diplomatic missions, as he is dabbling in local politics through pushing an opposition agenda.

Instead of peddling falsehoods of a non-existent crisis, the Government said Mr Nichols should use his position, as a diplomat stationed in Zimbabwe, to call for the removal of illegal sanctions that his country imposed on Zimbabwe in blatant disregard of international law.

Mr Nichols, who told a South African publication that the Zimbabwean Government does not respect human rights, has consistently turned a blind eye on the political reforms that the Second Republic has instituted including the re-engagement and dialogue platforms that President Mnangagwa has availed to both local and international players.

His position, which dovetails with the opposition agenda that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe, is however, at variance with the situation obtaining in the country, where President Mnangagwa has opened his doors for dialogue to parties that lost the 2018 elections in the spirit of nation building.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said Mr Nichols was engaging in “megaphone diplomacy” through making baseless statements in the media so as to cast aspersions on the Second Republic and its efforts towards achieving Vision 2030.

“The Zimbabwe Government once again expresses its utter dismay at the actions by the United States Ambassador Mr Brian Nichols in continuing to make disparaging public comments and attacks on the Zimbabwe Government’s political and economic programmes in clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which governs the rules for the exchange and treatment of envoys between States, as well as their behaviour.

“This is despite a reminder from the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Affairs in October 2019 that such activities were at variance with the obligations placed on a diplomatic mission, representative or agent of a foreign government by the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations to respect the rules of diplomatic conduct,” the statement from Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade reads.

“Furthermore, diplomatic channels for communication of any concerns to the Zimbabwe Government do exist and Ambassador Nichols is encouraged to make use of these, instead of engaging in the megaphone diplomacy of casting aspersions on the Zimbabwe Government and dabbling in local politics including pushing an agenda meant to prop up the fortunes of an opposition which is trying to sell a dummy to the world, that there is a political crisis in Zimbabwe. The truth of the matter is that there simply is no such crisis in Zimbabwe.”

The ministry said allegations by Ambassador Nichols of a country in turmoil were without grounding, adding that a forum for national dialogue already existed and it was up to those who remain outside to join it.

“Ambassador Nichols’ actions are objectionable and stand in contravention of Diplomatic Missions’ obligations under the Vienna Convention.  The Ambassador has a responsibility to carry out his legitimate functions without unduly attacking the Zimbabwe Government. He is therefore urged to cease forthwith any actions which result in not only further harming relations between Zimbabwe and the United States, but are also a flagrant violation of protocol, etiquette and the basic tenets of the Vienna Convention,” said the ministry.

The Government said Zimbabwe, like most countries, is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, effects of Cyclone Idai, droughts and the debilitating effects of the illegal sanctions that have bled the country of millions.

“Contrary to claims by Ambassador Nichols that Zimbabwe lacked democracy and that the Government ignored human rights, Zimbabwe actually has a vibrant democracy which is buttressed by a free Press and an independent judiciary and the Government respects the rights of Zimbabweans.”

Government’s record in fighting corruption is well documented and Ambassador Nichols was aware of cases of several former Government ministers and senior officials on trial for corruption, said the ministry.

The ministry said as a local diplomat Ambassador Nichols should be able to focus on several developments the Government has embarked upon to improve the economy.

The ministry said Zimbabwe was currently undertaking a re-engagement drive with Western countries including the US as evidenced by President Mnangagwa’s meeting last year in Mozambique with United States Assistant Secretary of State Ambassador Tibor Naggy with whom he held very cordial and frank discussions regarding bilateral cooperation and developments in Zimbabwe.

Big Protest in Mauritius Over Oil Spill


2020/8/30 15:53:42

Tens of thousands of Mauritians protested Saturday in the capital Port-Louis over the government's handling of a giant oil spill off its pristine Indian Ocean coast.

The Japanese bulk carrier MV Wakashio crashed into a reef off southeastern Mauritius in July spewing more than 1,000 tons of oil into waters that are home to mangrove forests and endangered species. 

After the boat split in two, the larger piece was towed out to sea and sunk, but the smaller section remains stranded on the reef.

The call for the march came from an ordinary citizen, Jean Bruneau Laurette, who has become a hero among many for daring to oppose Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth.

Laurette, a maritime security expert, says the government has been hiding the truth about the circumstances of the oil spill. He has filed a case against the environment ministry.

Up to 75,000 protesters thronged the square in front of the cathedral in downtown Port-Louis, an AFP reporter said, in the biggest demonstration in 40 years.


US Needs to Meet China Halfway to Restore Respectful Relations: Scholar

Global Times 

2020/9/1 0:31:07

 Editor's Note: Although a bipartisan consensus to be tough on China prevails in the US, there are still moderate and rational scholars calling for a reset in China-US relations. Jon R. Taylor (Taylor), professor and chair of Department of Political Science and Geography, the University of Texas at San Antonio, is one of them. In a written interview with Global Times (GT) reporter Yu Jincui, professor Taylor shared his views on the prospect of China-US relations before and after the US presidential election and how to reset the ties.  

GT: Tensions between the US and China are escalating at a dizzying pace. What will come next? Will US President Donald Trump take more radical measures to make China-US relations into a tougher time in the following months before election?

Taylor: We know where Trump stands. He and his party have made it quite clear that China will be front and center as an issue during the fall. After three years of increasingly harsh rhetoric and actions, this should come as little surprise. Concentrating on China helps deflect criticism from American voters' who are dissatisfied with Trump's handling of the pandemic and the economy. Given what we've seen since 2017, China should be prepared for anything - from further calls to decouple to imposing further sanctions on Chinese imports and officials to pushing the limits of the One China Policy. Buckle-up, because it's going to be a bumpy ride.

GT: Trump and Biden are competing with each other over who is tougher on China. How do you see the role of the "China topic" in the US election? 

Taylor: China will be one of the most discussed issues during the election. If the rhetoric from the Republican convention was any indication, Trump will continue to blame China for a host of ills in the US. As for Biden, his party will also take a hard-line stand during the election in order to avoid attacks from Trump for being "soft" on China. 

I would suggest to those Chinese observing the US election that they try not to take the heated rhetoric personally. It's quite understandable if the contentiousness of American politics is particularly unsettling when one of the top campaign issues in the US happens to be your home country. Take light notice of it and pursue a wait-and-see approach with the election.

GT: There is a view that no matter if Trump or Biden get elected, it will be hard to fix China-US relations. What's your take? How will different election results affect the future of bilateral relations?

Taylor: That's a prudent view for China to take and expect. If Trump wins, it will probably be an easy answer about the future of China-US relations: We'll likely see more of the same chaos and aggressiveness that has defined China-US relations during the first three years of the Trump administration. The question is what happens with a Biden victory. In the short-term, we'll likely not see much of a change. In fact, it could be almost as harsh as Trump's, if for no other reason that it will take time to revise policies and rebalance the relationship. But a Biden victory has the potential to create a realistic reset of China-US relations in the long-term.

GT: China and the US now have conflicts in a string of areas such as economics, technology, political systems, ideology, and international leadership. In which areas can conflicts like these be eased? Which areas might see intensified conflict?

Taylor: I think that there are areas where conflict between China and the US can be eased, particularly on trade, cybersecurity, human trafficking, illegal drugs, intellectual property, and the Korean Peninsula. Unfortunately, there are areas where conflict between China and the US may likely intensify - at least under Trump - including the South China Sea, cross-Straits relations, and technology.

GT: The Trump administration believes that the policy of engagement with China pursued by successive US administrations since President Nixon's has not produced its goal and has failed. How do you see this? Can the legacy of decades of engagement still be saved? 

Taylor: I think that the Trump administration is mistaken. Almost fifty years of engagement has been beneficial for both countries - from direct foreign investment to bilateral trade to educational exchanges to cultural understanding. I strongly believe that this legacy of engagement can and must be saved. The stakes are too high. But it's going to take some effort on the part of both sides to overcome mistrust and harsh rhetoric. We've done it before. We can do it again.

GT: You said in an interview that China's effort to fix the trajectory of the relationship is currently being met with what appears to be US indifference. To what extent will China's efforts influence the bilateral relations? 

Taylor: China can only do so much. It's going to take a change of mind-set within the US leadership to fix the trajectory of China-US relations. Assuming a Biden victory, it would really help if there was an early meeting with President Xi Jinping in order to begin the reset. If Trump were to somehow win reelection, then expect a continued downward trajectory. If the world's most important bilateral relationship is going to work, the US will have to meet China halfway. That means showing a level of courtesy, legitimacy, and respect that is due to a great power. There has to be a willingness to show flexibility. Will China and the US always agree? Of course not. But a reset in relations, one that's marked by mutual respect and a recognition that each side has differing, but legitimate, views would go a long way toward righting the relationship.

Hurting Ties With China Will Have Consequences Australia Cannot Afford to Bear

By Wang Wenwen 

Global Times 

2020/9/1 1:33:26

The government of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will introduce legislation this week empowering the foreign affairs minister to review and cancel agreements between local governments and universities and foreign countries considered "detrimental" to Australia's foreign policy objectives. China, is the implicit target.

Group of Eight universities have blasted the plan. Top representatives of the sector also warned that Australia would be "in really serious trouble" without international partnerships, and believe their scientists have been vilified for working with Chinese counterparts. 

This is Australia, which keeps resorting to the excuse of "national security" to jeopardize cooperation with China, be it technological, economic, or scientific. Whenever it comes to China, Australia behaves like a nervously alerted bird which tries to find a way out, but ends up facing a dead end.

In terms of scientific collaboration, the Australia-China Relations Institute of the University of Technology Sydney published a paper in July, which found that China has overtaken the US as Australia's leading research partner, and more Australian-led scientific publications involve researchers from China than any other country. 

If the China-led mining boom has fueled Australia's economic growth in the past decade, the "knowledge boom," as the Financial Times called it, would contribute to the country's scientific development vital to helping Australia establish itself on the world stage. That is why the newly proposed legislation against scientific collaboration with China has triggered a backlash from this sector.

Some Australian scholars have blamed China for the frosty relations between the two countries, saying Beijing has been openly hostile toward Canberra. But from Australia's ban on Huawei, the unwarranted allegation of Chinese influence, and cybersecurity concerns, the politicization of an investigation into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic to hype the international probe and attack on China, and the latest legislation to scrutinize agreements with a foreign government, these events prove that Canberra is the hostile one. 

"National security" has been abused by countries which adopt a protectionist and xenophobic stance. The US is the master of using this excuse, and Australia is the closest follower of the US in terms of restricting Chinese investment and academic exchanges. Australia is giving up the opportunity to think and act independently, but attaches itself to the US anti-China chariot with alarmist rhetoric. 

Australia's fundamental mistake is that it does not have a correct understanding of China, and takes the wrong approach to deal with China. It is doing the Trump administration's bidding, leaving itself no room to strike a balance between China and the US, as what other countries do. It finds fault with China on almost all fronts where it cannot live without China, trapping itself in an embarrassing dilemma. 

In the past decade, China has been Australia's largest trading partner, and this market is difficult to replace. If Australia views this close economic relationship as well as China-Australia collaboration in other sectors such as science as a burden rather than an opportunity, it will face far-reaching consequences it cannot bear. When that happens, the US won't come to its rescue. 

China Must Resolutely Counterattack India’s Opportunist Move

Global Times 

2020/9/1 1:20:4

China India Photo: GT

China’s Western Theatre Command said Monday evening that Indian troops once again illegally crossed the Line of Actual Control near the south bank of the Pangong Lake and Reqin mountain pass on Monday, a blatant provocative move that seriously infringed on China’s territorial sovereignty, and undermined the peace and stability in the China-India border area. Earlier in the day, India, who first moved to accuse China of carrying out “provocative military movements,” said it preempted Chinese military activity. 

The word “preempt” shows it was the Indian troops that first took destructive actions, and the Indian troops initiated the standoff this time.

Twenty Indian soldiers died in the Galwan Valley clash between Chinese and Indian troops in June. In the following two months, anti-China opinion dominated Indian society. India overreached itself by economically sanctioning China and strengthened interaction with the US in order to gain an upper hand over China. Washington almost publicly sided with New Delhi, which further encouraged the latter.

The south bank of the Pangong Lake where the latest confrontation took place is under China’s control. India is trying to turn it into a new disputed area as a bargaining chip in negotiations. Obviously, India is taking an aggressive approach on border issues rather than prioritizing stability in border regions. 

India is now burdened with domestic issues, especially the coronavirus situation that has almost spiraled out of control. On Sunday, the number of new infection cases reached as high as 78,000, breaking the world record. The economy has been dragged into a sluggish state. By provoking tensions at the border, New Delhi also aims to shift domestic attention, which is a hooligan behavior externally, and political flimflam internally. 

But it must be pointed out that New Delhi is facing a powerful China. The PLA has sufficient force to safeguard every inch of the country. Chinese people have shown support to the government which won’t seek to provoke India, but does not allow it to encroach on China’s territory. China is strategically firm in the southwestern border areas and is also prepared for any circumstance. China welcomes it if India wants to co-exist in peace. If India wants to engage in competition, China has more tools and capability than India. If India would like a military showdown, the PLA is bound to make the Indian army suffer much more severe losses than it did in 1962.

India should not have any illusions of Washington’s support, nor does it need to embolden itself by strengthening cooperation under the Quad framework. China-India border issues are bound to be solved by the two. The US can only support India verbally. How can it help India grab Chinese territory? What is really in the minds of the Americans is to let India and China consume themselves so that India can become a more useful pawn in the US’ China containment strategy.

The confrontation in Pangong Lake shows that India did not draw any lessons from the Galwan Valley clash. It is still determined to provoke China. Since the Doklam standoff in 2017 when the Indian army crossed the border to provoke China, the tense situation in the China-India border area continues with the same logic. China-India border frictions are likely to prolong, and various kinds of crises, be they big or small, will become normal. We have to be prepared for this.

China needs to prepare to carry out a military struggle in the China-India border area. We should try our best to resolve frictions through peaceful means. But when India recklessly challenges China’s bottom line, China must not be soft. It must take military actions when necessary, and ensure it can win.

China is several times stronger than India, and India is no match for China. We must smash any Indian illusion that it can deal with China by colluding with other powers, such as the US. The history of Asia and the world has told us that any force keen on opportunism tends to bully the weak while fear the strong. India is a typical opportunist when it comes to the China-India border issue.   

Sudan, Armed Groups Sign Landmark Peace Agreement

From the left, Al-Burhan, Kiir and Hamdok hold the peace agreement while Hemetti applauds during the initial signing ceremony in Juba on 31 August 2020 (ST photo)August 31, 2020

 (JUBA) - The Sudanese government and the armed group in Darfur and the Two Areas Monday finally wrapped up a year of arduous negotiations by initialling a comprehensive agreement for peace in Sudan, amid a wide local and regional applauses and great media coverage.

The initial signing ceremony took place in Juba where the parties to the talks initialled eight protocols for each of the five tracks that included the Darfur region, the Two Areas, Central Sudan, eastern Sudan, and North Sudan.

The event was attended by representatives of IGAD countries, as well as ambassadors of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, envoys from Egypt, the United States and the European Union.

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sovereign Council welcomed the conclusion of the peace agreement saying it comes in line with the constitutional document and the national efforts to end the war and restore security in the whole Sudan.

" We hope that the people of Sudan will reap the fruits of this agreement with real change that (....) lays the foundations for building a Sudan of freedom, peace and justice," he said.

In his speech at the end of the ceremony, President Salva Kiir thanked the Sudanese government and the armed groups for accepting his offer for mediation.

Also, he thanked the international community "for endorsing my Government offer to mediate the Sudanese conflict" and cited the resolutions of the UN Security Council and IGAD.

Kiir, al-Burhan and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok called on the holdout Abdel Aziz al-Hilu and Abdel Wahid al-Nur to join the peace process and not to miss this historic opportunity, stressing that there is no military solution for the conflict.

The South Sudanese president stressed that the absence of SPLM-N’ leader al-Hilu and th SLM’s leader al-Nur from this ceremony "remains a challenge".

"In recognition of this unfinished work, we will redouble our efforts in convincing those who are not present in this ceremony to see value in this peace process and to be part of it," he stressed.

For his part, Malik Agar the leader of the SPLM-N of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front declared that war is over and expressed his readiness to return to Khartoum as soon as possible.

Gibril Ibrahim the leader of Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement in Darfur said that "The main challenge facing us now is the implementation of the peace agreement, and finding donations to do that".

But Hamdok said that this peace agreement has been fully negotiated by Sudanese alone before to assert that it would be fully implemented.

The head of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front Hadi Idriss said the negotiated agreement "addresses the roots of crises, presented effective solutions and fair standards for sharing power and wealth, and reforming civil and military service institutions and the system of government".

Idriss further added that this deal provides a scientific and practical prescription for dealing with the negative consequences of the conflict particularly displacement, asylum, land issues, transitional justice and nomads.

European Union applauds

Josep Borrell, the European Union High Representative praised the Juba-brokered agreement for peace in Sudan.

"The peace agreement initialed today between the civilian-led Transitional Government of Sudan and the Sudan Revolutionary Front signifies an important milestone for the ongoing democratic and economic transition of Sudan."

The EU which is seen in Khartoum as the main supporter of the civilian-led government called to implement the deal in good faith to live up the expectation of the Sudanese people for peace and stability.

Borrell also called on the holdout groups to join the negotiating table.

"This is the time for all Sudanese stakeholders to set aside their differences and to look for the greater good of the country and of all Sudanese."


Egypt Welcomes Sudan's Peace Pact With Revolutionary Front

Ahram Online  

AFP  Tuesday 1 Sep 2020

Egypt welcomed the peace agreement the Sudanese transitional government and Sudan's Revolutionary Front initialled in SouthSudan's Juba on Monday, the Egyptian foreign ministry said.

“Egypt reasserts its support of Sudan in its efforts for peace, stability and prosperity,” the statement said, adding that Egypt is ready to continue its efforts to achieve stability in coordination with regional and international partners.

The deal was initialled with nine armed movements grouped under Sudan's Revolutionary Front after 10 months of mediation in South Sudan.

About 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since rebels took up arms there in 2003, according to the United Nations.

Conflict in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile erupted in 2011, in the wake of South Sudan's independence, resuming two decades of war.

The agreement covers key issues concerning security, land ownership, transitional justice, power-sharing, and the return of people who fled their homes because of fighting.

It also provides for the dismantling of rebel forces and the integration of their fighters into the national army.

Rebel members of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) had provisionally initialled the agreement with the government late on Saturday.

However, an SLM faction led by Abdelwahid Nour and a wing of the SPLM-N headed by Abdelaziz Al-Hilu refused to take part.

Sudan Calls for New Approach in Talks on GERD

In a meeting held on Friday, the three Nile riparian countries failed to agree on a draft paper prepared from their three negotiating positions with the participation of the technical teams of the three countries, as it had been requested from the African Union.

The draft was supposed to be submitted to the Bureau of the African Union to discuss it with the prime minister of the three countries directly.

However, after a lengthy on Friday, the water ministers of the three countries agreed that each country individually sends its vision for the next stage of the negotiations.

The Sudanese Irrigation Minister issued a statement Yasir Abbas issued a statement recalling that his country had proposed a greater role in the drafting of this paper by the African Union and the observers: European Union and the United States of America.

Abbas further stressed that reaching an agreement "requires a political will". Also, he added that the "negotiations in their current form would not achieve practical results".

The Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was in Khartoum on 25 August for talks with his Sudanese counterpart on the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam (GERD).

Following the meeting, the two parties agreed that it is imperative to reach "A win-win formula that would make the GERD a vehicle for regional integration between the riparian countries".

On 27 August, the Foreign Policy Magazine reported that U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo approved a plan to halt nearly $130 million in U.S. foreign assistance to Ethiopia.

The move means to put pressure on Ethiopia to reach a deal with the downstream countries particularly Egypt which relies entirely on the Nile water.

It is worth noting that Ethiopia calls for a new process in two parties the first about the filling of the GERD and the second on a water-sharing agreement.

But, Egypt and Sudan reject this new proposition and stick that the discussions should continue on a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the giant dam.


The United States to Cut Non-humanitarian Aid to Ethiopia 

“…the United States can have tough conversations with friends.”


August 28, 2020

The United States Department of State approved a plan to cut U.S. Foreign Aid assistance to Ethiopia, according to a report by Foreign Policy.

An estimated $130 million cut is believed to affect programs in counter-terrorism, security, military education and training, and anti-human trafficking – among other programs.

Emergency Humanitarian aid including food assistance and health programs won’t be affected by the cut, the source added.

The US action is informed by the move to “address” disagreement between Ethiopia and Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

State Department officials have, said the report by Foreign Policy,briefed Congressional staff on the decision.  And they believe that the U.S.-Ethiopia relationship would not be affected because “the United States can have tough conversations with friends.”

However, The Foreign Policy report indicated that the decision has caused “friction” within the Trump administration. 

In February 2019, thousands of Ethiopians took to the streets in Washington DC protesting President Donald pressure on their country during the Washington negotiation between the three riparian countries (Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt).

The US claimed to be an “observer” and facilitator in the negotiation but later issued a statement warning Ethiopia not to fill the dam before reaching an agreement with the lower riparian countries – a statement that angered Ethiopians further. Ethiopia rejected the statement at the time. Most Ethiopians have the understanding that the United States wants Egypt at the expense of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia completed the first phase of GERD filling during the first two weeks of July this year taking advantage of heavy rainfall that the country received.

Ethiopia Seeks U.S. Clarification on Reports of Planned Aid Cut

By Samuel Gebre

August 31, 2020, 3:38 AM EDT

The site of the under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz Region of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia asked the U.S. government to clarify reports it may withhold about $130 million of aid in a bid to pressure the Horn of Africa nation to review its plans to fill a new dam that have affronted its neighbors.

“We have asked for clarification on reports of the United States’ decision not to give the $130 million it assigned to Ethiopia,” Fitsum Arega, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the U.S., said on Twitter. “We have heard that the issue is related to the ongoing negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”

Ethiopia and Egypt are at an impasse over how the dam on a tributary of the Nile River will be managed. Egypt, which depends on the Nile for most of its fresh-water needs, is opposed to any development it says will impact the flow downstream -- a position echoed by Sudan. Ethiopia is developing a 6,000-megawatt power plant at the dam, and has asserted a right to use the resource for its development.

As part of its effort to end the impasse, the U.S. is considering cutting aid that could affect security, counter-terrorism and anti-human trafficking programs, Foreign Policy reported Aug. 28.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on Friday reached a deadlock in tripartite talks about the dam, Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abas said.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Islamist Insurgency in Northern Mozambique Threatens Gasfields

By Peter Fabricius

30 August 2020

It is a sobering thought for Mozambique and Southern Africa as a whole that, at time of writing, a growing insurgent army with links to Islamic State remains in control of Mocimboa da Praia in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province.

First published in Daily Maverick

The commercially and strategically important port, about 70 kilometres from the border with Tanzania, was captured by a force of as many as 1 000 fighters on August 11.

This victory was important as it was here that the insurgency really began on October 5, 2017, when a ragtag group of about 30 fighters armed with AK-47s attacked the police station and other government buildings, killing two police officers and several civilians before withdrawing.

The fall of the town earlier – while a major victory for the insurgents – was a heavy blow for Mozambique as the port is the state’s main source of resupply for its war effort in the north of Cabo Delgado. The town is a major logistics hub for the liquified natural gas projects further north at Afungi near the coastal town of Palma.

Since the first attack on Mocimboa da Praia in 2017, the group – which has been called Ahlu Sunnah Wal- Jamaa (ASWJ) or colloquially “Al-Shabaab” – has grown into a formidable army of up to 1 000 fighters armed with weapons stolen from Mozambican security forces.

The genesis and evolution of the group remains something of a mystery. Most analysts agree it was originally a domestic phenomenon and remains largely rooted in Cabo Delgado and influenced by Islamist extremists from further up Africa’s east coast, through Tanzania, Kenya and even to Somalia.

About 18% of Mozambique’s population is Muslim and Cabo Delgado has the largest concentration, mainly on the coast. As the original Al-Shabaab (which means “youth” in Arabic) in Somalia split from the mainstream Islamic Courts Union (ICU) as a radical splinter group of disenchanted younger members, so the Mozambique version seems to have broken away from Mozambique’s officially-recognised Islamic Council.

There were many points of contention, ranging from Ahlu-Sunnah-Wal-Jamaa/Al Shabaab’s fundamentalist/Wahabist objection to co-educational schooling, to their objection that the Islamic Council was too Indian, to a sense of socio-economic exclusion of lower-class Muslims, say scholars like Liazzat Bonate from the University of the West Indies, an expert on Mozambican Islam. 

Bonate noted in October 2017 that in Cabo Delgado, the lands and the seashore where people traditionally fished were being occupied by business conglomerates, and local informal miners were being forcibly prevented from extracting valuable minerals such as rubies – probably because the ruling Frelimo party had a commercial interest in the minerals.

Analysts believe this sense of exclusion has been exacerbated by the discovery of immense natural gas reserves in Cabo Delgado’s Rovuma basin, and a conviction by locals that they will not see the benefits of this bonanza.

After initial attacks on government forces, ASWJ gradually took on a barbarous new character with a surge of attacks on civilians in which many were maimed or beheaded with machetes. The motivations for these tactics were unclear although it seemed as though the group was beginning to borrow some of the signature features of Islamic State which has become notorious for its beheadings in Iraq and Syria.

Around June 2019, the insurgents began flying the sinister black and white Islamic State flag and IS began taking public credit for attacks – which as ASWJ/Al-Shabaab, the insurgents had never done.

The group has grown in the size of its army, its arsenal and the number and boldness of attacks. From three armed attacks in 2017, 19 in 2018 and 34 in 2019, there were 43 attacks in just the first four months of 2020. The group has so far conducted 617 attacks causing 1842 deaths, according to Theunis Marais of Rhula Intelligent Solutions, a Mozambique-based risk management company.

And the attacks have grown bigger and moved further south in Cabo Delgado. This year the insurgents captured three district capitals, including the important one of Quissanga late in March.

Government security forces seem to have inadvertently contributed to ASWJ’s recruitment drive by brutalising innocent civilians in reaction to attacks. Insurgents, when entering Mocimboa da Praia in June this year, were treated by many inhabitants as liberators and Robin Hood-like as they handed out cash and products looted from local banks and shops.

The number and size of their weapons has also grown, mainly by plundering from the army – particularly in a raid on the Mbau military base on January 23 when they left with eight truckloads of arms, according to Marais.

For a long time, the Mozambican government insisted on treating the insurgents as mere criminal “bandits” and responded accordingly. But as the size of the threat grew, they were forced to take it more seriously. In September/October 2019 the shadowy Russian private military company Wagner – reportedly closely linked to President Vladimir Putin and acting as a proxy army for the Russian state – arrived in Cabo Delgado with a force, possibly of around 200 men and three attack helicopters. They did not seem to adapt well to the harsh African conditions and withdrew a few months later after suffering quite heavy casualties.

In April 2020, Maputo hired the South African private security/military company Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), run by former Zimbabwean military officer Lionel Dyck. DAG has had some success in shooting the insurgents from the air with small aircraft but has suffered from a lack of coordination with Mozambique ground troops, resulting in several “friendly fire” incidents and civilian casualties, Marais says.

The French and US natural gas companies have also stepped up their security protection, even though insurgents have so far not deliberately targeted the industry.

Marais believes the insurgents are still consolidating their strength and could still focus attacks on the gas industry in the future.

In May, the South African government revealed that it was talking to Maputo about what help it could provide. There are also unconfirmed reports that SA forces might already be engaged in training Mozambican soldiers.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has also taken notice. A summit of its defence and security organ in May committed the organisation to help Mozambique, though neither there nor at a full SADC summit on August 17, 2020, were any concrete commitments made.

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi seemed to be in denial, saying the summit had focused on “preventing and combating cross-border crime, with an emphasis on terrorism”, as though the insurgency was essentially a foreign phenomenon. 

Other countries in the region see the cross-border threat going the other way – a spillover of Islamic terrorists onto their territory. Already it seems the Cabo Delgado insurgency has inspired IS sympathisers to join the fighters in Mozambique.

The immediate danger is to the commercial exploitation of Cabo Delgado’s huge LNG reserves which are expected to be the salvation of the Mozambican economy.

Marais believes the insurgents have not directly targeted the gas industry for strategic reasons, wanting to consolidate their strength before embarking on action that could provoke a major backlash from international forces defending the international companies which hold the gas concessions, mainly the US and France.

What will happen next?  Jasmine Opperman, an expert at the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), says that Mozambique troops are massing around Mocimboa da Praia, preparing to recapture the town. 

But even if they succeed, the insurgents will almost certainly attack again – there or elsewhere, as they have demonstrated their growing power to cause major disruptions in the province seemingly at will.

As the Institute for Security Studies has pointed out, the SADC Mutual Defence Pact obliges other member states to come to the rescue of a country under attack. But whether SADC as a whole or any individual members have the political will, the courage and the means to do so remains to be seen. 


Namibia Allows International Travel As It Eases Most Covid-19 Restrictions

30 AUGUST 2020 - 22:54 


Windhoek — Namibia will lift lockdown restrictions, allowing international travel, schools to reopen and on-site alcohol consumption from September, President Hage Geingob has announced, but he extended an overnight curfew as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

The country of 2-million now has 6,906 confirmed Covid-19 cases and the disease is not yet contained — of its 65 deaths, 55 were in August.

African leaders are weighing the impact of the virus against the huge economic and social damage done by lockdowns.

“The virus is likely to remain in our midst for a prolonged time and we must learn to live with it ... learning to live with the virus means adapting our attitudes and behaviours so that we can reduce the damage it can do to our country,” Geingob said in a televised address on Friday night.

He announced an 8pm to 5am curfew in place in the capital, Windhoek, and the Erongo region — Covid-19 hotspots — will be introduced across the country.

But Hosea Kutako International Airport will open its doors to international travellers from Tuesday, while schools, vocational education training providers and universities will be allowed to hold on-site classes from September 7.

Restaurants and hotels outside worst-affected Windhoek and the Erongo region can start selling meals and alcohol to be consumed on the premises, the president announced.



Community members on Sunday afternoon marched to the local police station.

Residents of Eldorado Park, south of Joburg, on 30 August 2020 marched to the local police station following the murder of 16-year-old Nathaniel Julies. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN. 

Edwin Ntshidi 

ELDORADO PARK - Residents of Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg, on Sunday gave the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) six months to finalise its probe relating to the death of teenager Nathaniel Julies.

Community members marched on Sunday afternoon to the local police station.

Hundreds of people - including residents from Westbury, Noordgesig, and Reiger Park - gathered outside the police station to demand justice.

“This is what we want to see as the community: weekly updates on progress on cases, updates on the steps taken against the other two members who were on the scene, and an investigation into alleged corruption among police members,” said one of the community leaders.

The 16-year-old, who suffered from Down Syndrome, was shot in the area on Wednesday night and later died in hospital.

Police claimed that Julies was shot during a crossfire between rival gangs, but residents and the teen’s family claimed he was shot by the police.

During the march on Sunday, angry residents signed a petition that would be forwarded to Ipid, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and police.

Two police officers were arrested on Friday following a preliminary investigation by the police watchdog. The officers were expected to be charged with murder, a possible count of defeating the ends of justice, and possession of prohibited ammunition.

They were expected to appear before the Protea Magistrates Court on Monday.

Anger in South Africa as Disabled Teen Dies After Police Shooting

Family calls for accountability as 16-year-old boy with Down's syndrome dies after he was allegedly shot by police.

by Mia Swart 

28 Aug 2020

Johannesburg, South Africa - Residents in the South African capital are angry after a disabled 16-year-old boy was allegedly shot dead by the police.

Nathaniel Julius, who had Down's syndrome, died in a hospital in Johannesburg on Wednesday night, hours after he was shot by the police metres away from his home in the city's Eldorado Park suburb.

The killing occurred after residents in the neighbourhood - ravaged by drugs and crime - took to the streets to protest the lack of housing in the area.

In recent months, the South African police have faced allegations of brutality during the enforcement of coronavirus restrictions.

Police claimed Julius was wounded in a shoot-out between gang members and police officers when a stray bullet hit him. But the family and the community rejected the claim.

According to the family, the teenager was shot in the chest when he was unable to answer questions from the police.

Witnesses said Julius was holding a biscuit in his hand when police began questioning him, but he was not able to answer properly due to his condition.

Witnesses alleged that police officers bundled Julius into a van after the shooting and took him to hospital several miles away, where he died.

'Justice for Nathaniel'

"Police should be trained to minimise the possibility that bystanders will be killed. The facts are not clear here, but a shoot-out does not in itself constitute justification for the death," David Bruce, an independent expert on policing in South Africa, told Al Jazeera.

During the protest on the day of Julius' death, Eldorado Park residents hurled rocks at the police, who retaliated by firing rubber bullets and stun grenades.

A provincial government official, Faith Mazibuko, visited the teen's family on Thursday and announced that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IDIP) will probe the case.

Addressing the reporters later, Mazibuko said the police officers deployed in Eldorado Park during the incident have been removed while the case is being investigated.

Meanwhile, more violence followed on Thursday, with residents calling for an overhaul of the police force in the area.

In a statement on Wednesday, IDIP spokesperson Ndileka Cola said it was difficult to reach the scene of the incident "as the situation had been volatile" and that it was difficult to conduct interviews "as the community was violent".

On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele was confronted by an angry crowd chanting "Police are corrupt!" and "Justice for Nathaniel!" as he visited Julius's parents in Eldorado Park.


According to the boy's family, the police are trying to "cover up" the "cold-blooded" killing.

The shooting is reminiscent of other instances of recent police brutality in South Africa during the coronavirus lockdown that started on March 27.

Bruce compared the boy's shooting to the killing of Tyrone Moeng, 19, who was fatally shot by the police on April 13.

Themba Masuku of the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum said, "The killing of a defenceless young man by the police demonstrates serious problems in our policing".

"It is highly unlikely that this young person posed any threat that warranted lethal force. The culture of impunity and lack of respect for life is worrisome because everyone especially children must feel safe around the police. Force should be used as a last resort," Masuku told Al Jazeera.

"We have a moral duty and that is to demand the truth. We must demand answers and expect to get only the truth," said Yasmin Sooka, executive director at Johannesburg-based Foundation for Human Rights.


Rebellion in Sweden After Quran Burning by Far-right Activists

Riot police on the scene as smoke billows from burning tires and fireworks, as a few hundred protesters riot in the Rosengard neighbourhood of Malmo, Sweden, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. Far-right activists burned a Quran in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, sparking riots and unrest after more than 300 people gathered to protest, police said Saturday. Rioters set fires and threw objects at police and rescue services Friday night, slightly injuring several police officers and leading to the detention of about 15 people. (TT News Agency via AP)

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Far-right activists burned a Quran in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, sparking riots and unrest after more than 300 people gathered to protest, police said Saturday.

Rioters set fires and threw objects at police and rescue services Friday night, slightly injuring several police officers and leading to the detention of about 15 people.

The violence followed the burning Friday afternoon of a Quran, near a predominantly migrant neighborhood, that was carried out by far-right activists and filmed and posted online, according to the TT news agency.

Later, three people were arrested on suspicion of inciting hatred against an ethnic group after kicking the Muslim holy book.

The head of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations expressed “unequivocal condemnation of the burning of the Quran by far-right extremists ... as despicable and totally unacceptable,” his spokeswoman said.

Miguel Moratinos called on religious leaders of all faiths to denounce all violence based on religious belief, spokeswoman Nihal Saad said, adding that “such deplorable acts perpetrated by hate-mongers ... and other radical groups incite violence and tear apart the fabric of our communities” which are an affront to U.N. values and the alliance which works to strengthen inter-culutral and inter-religious dialogue.

Seventy-four Face Federal Charges from Portland Protests

August 27, 2020

A march on the Portland police union headquarters drew a rapid police response after someone set a fire next to the building. Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Seventy-four people are now facing federal charges related to protests that have rocked Portland, Oregon, for three months since George Floyd was killed, the local U.S. attorney announced Thursday.

The misdemeanor and felony charges include assaults on federal officers, arson and damaging federal property.

“Violent agitators have hijacked any semblance of First Amendment protected activity, engaging in violent criminal acts and destruction of public safety,” Billy Williams, the U.S. attorney for Oregon, said in a statement.

Portland has been gripped by nightly protests since the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis. The demonstrations, often violent, usually target police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters have called for reductions in police budgets while the city’s mayor and some in the Black community have decried the violence, saying it’s counterproductive.

Protesters and U.S. agents assigned to protect federal property in Portland clashed late Wednesday outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building in another night of violence.

Some people in a crowd of about 200 disabled or vandalized building security cameras, shined laser lights at the agents and threw rocks and bottles at them, Portland police said in a statement issued Thursday. A federal agent was injured after being hit in the leg by a rock, and police made 11 arrests, police said.

Portland’s FBI chief on Wednesday said he is shifting the agency’s resources to focus more heavily on the protests.

On Thursday, local prosecutors said they had resolved the first felony case related to the protests when the defendant pleaded guilty.

Rollin Tristan Fodor, 18, entered the plea on a charge of first-degree arson and was sentenced to 45 days of time served, community service and three years of probation.

As part of the plea, Fodor admitted he started a fire in an industrial-sized trash bin outside a beauty supply store near a police precinct during demonstrations on June 26.

Mike Schmidt, Multnomah County’s newly elected prosecutor, has said he would dismiss lower-level, non-violent charges against hundreds of people arrested since late May during nightly protests. Felony crimes such as arson, however, will be prosecuted.


This story has been updated to correct that Portland police issued the statement about the Wednesday night protests Thursday, not Wednesday.

Kentucky AG Has Received Ballistics in Breonna Taylor Case


Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron speaks during the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s attorney general has received a long-awaited FBI ballistics report in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron tweeted Sunday that there is additional analysis needed now that the report is in his hands, and there would be no announcement on the investigation this week.

“We continue to work diligently to follow the facts and complete the investigation,” Cameron tweeted.

Cameron has indicated the ballistics report from federal investigators was an important piece of evidence still needed in the investigation of Taylor’s death by police on March 13.

He said Sunday on “Face the Nation” on CBS that he will be meeting with the FBI this week to have a “painstaking review” of the report.

“And that will help us in the analysis that needs to be undertaken before we can get to final steps,” he said.

His office took over the probe into the officers’ actions in May after the local prosecutor recused himself. Cameron made the first mention of the ballistics report earlier this month, after intense pressure from activists and high-profile celebrities.

Ballistics trace the path and impact of bullets and explosive devices. The tests were performed at the FBI crime lab in Quantico, Virginia.

Taylor was shot several times by officers who went to her home with a search warrant as part of a drug investigation. Officers used a no-knock search warrant to break down the door, and were met with gunfire from Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker. One of the officers, Jonathan Mattingly, was shot in the leg. Mattingly and two other officers, Myles Cosgrove and Brett Hankinson were placed on administrative reassignment after the shooting, and Hankison was later fired.

No drugs were found in the home and Taylor was unarmed.

Protesters have gathered outside Cameron’s Louisville home and at Kentucky’s Capitol in Frankfort to demand justice for Taylor. Pop star BeyoncĂ© wrote to Cameron, saying the officers “must be held accountable for their actions.” Oprah Winfrey has paid for billboards around Louisville calling on Cameron to charge the officers who shot Taylor.

Cameron, Kentucky’s first African American attorney general, recently met with Taylor’s mother, Tamika Palmer, acknowledging the enormity of her loss even as he asked her to be patient. Cameron took office in December.

Cameron also spoke at the Republican National Convention last week.

Patriot Prayer Founder: Dead Man in Portland Was a Supporter


A man is treated after being shot Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020, in Portland, Ore. It wasn’t clear if the fatal shooting late Saturday was linked to fights that broke out as a caravan of about 600 vehicles was confronted by counterdemonstrators in the city’s downtown. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The founder of Patriot Prayer, a right-wing group whose supporters have frequently clashed with left-wing protesters in Portland, Oregon, said Sunday that the man fatally shot in Oregon’s largest city was a supporter of the group and a “good friend.”

Joey Gibson, head of the group based in Washington state, said he was also in Portland on Saturday night when supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in the streets of downtown. Gibson arrived at the scene of the shooting shortly after it happened and was briefly corralled in a nearby gas station by angry protesters.

“I can’t say much right now. All I can do is verify that he was a good friend and a supporter of Patriot Prayer,” Gibson said of the shooting victim in a text exchange with The Associated Press. He said he would make a fuller statement later Sunday.

Police issued a plea for videos, photos or eyewitness accounts of the killing late Saturday night, which happened about 15 minutes after a caravan of about 600 vehicles that were part of a pro-Trump rally left downtown.

It wasn’t clear if the shooting was related to the clashes between Trump supporters and counterprotesters in Portland, which has become a flashpoint in the national Black Lives Matter protests since George Floyd was killed in May and an increasing centerpiece in Trump’s law-and-order re-election campaign theme.

Police have not released any information about the case but said they were aware of videos on social media that showed the shooting.

“It is still early in this investigation, and I ask everyone to give the detectives time to do their important work before drawing conclusions about what took place,” said Police Chief Chuck Lovell.

“If anyone can provide information about this case, I ask them to please reach out to our detectives. This violence is completely unacceptable and we are working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible.”

An Associated Press freelance photographer heard three gunshots and then saw police medics attending to the victim, who appeared to be a white man. The freelancer said the man was wearing a hat bearing the insignia of Patriot Prayer.

Police said the man was shot in the chest. He was not immediately identified. It’s unclear who shot him.

Portland has been the site of nightly protests for more than three months since the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis. Many of them end in vandalism and violence, and hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested by local and federal law enforcement since late May.

In the two hours following the shooting, protesters gathered downtown and there was sporadic fighting and vandalism, police said. Ten people were arrested, police said.

The caravan had arrived downtown just as a planned protest was getting underway. The chaotic scene came two days after Trump invoked Portland as a liberal city overrun with violence in a speech at the Republican National Convention. The caravan marked the third Saturday in a row that Trump supporters have rallied in the city.

The right-wing group Patriot Prayer has a history in Portland and has repeatedly rallied supporters for pro-Trump rallies beginning in 2017. The group was founded by Joey Gibson and is based in Washington state; supporters periodically cross into Oregon for rallies and marches.

Counterprotesters have squared off with Patriot Prayer and other right-wing groups such as the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters multiple times in the city since Trump’s election.

Photos and videos taken late Saturday show Gibson arrived at the scene shortly after the shooting, but it wasn’t immediately clear why he did so.

On Sunday, Trump issued a flurry of tweets and retweets including several that blamed Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler for the death and one in which the president appeared to be encouraging his supporters to move into Portland. Wheeler was expected to hold a news conference later Sunday.

“GREAT PATRIOTS!” Trump wrote as he shared video of his supporters driving into Portland to confront the protesters.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blamed local officials for failing “to protect their communities.”

“I’m asking Portland officials, so that’s the mayor, that’s the governor and that’s local law enforcement, to do their job to address any violent activity that is occurring in their streets,” Wolf told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Wolf said the federal government was prepared to send agents to Portland and other cities to protect federal buildings and assist police.

When federal agents increased their presence in downtown Portland in July, the city saw some of the largest protests of the summer, with thousands of people turning out nightly. The crowds dissipated after the agents withdrew and State Police agreed to protect federal buildings for a two-week period.

Trump and other speakers at last week’s Republican convention evoked a violent, dystopian future if Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden wins in November and pointed to Portland as a cautionary tale for what would be in store for Americans.

The pro-Trump rally’s organizer, who recently coordinated a similar caravan in Boise, Idaho, said in a video posted Saturday on Twitter that attendees should only carry concealed weapons and the route was being kept secret for safety reasons.

The caravan had gathered earlier in the day at a suburban mall and drove as a group to the heart of Portland. As they arrived in the city, protesters tried to stop them by standing in the street and blocking bridges.

Video from the scene showed sporadic fighting, as well as Trump supporters firing paintball pellets at opponents and using bear spray as counter-protesters threw things at the Trump caravan.

The Black Lives Matter demonstrations usually target police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters have called for reductions in police budgets while the city’s mayor and some in the Black community have decried the violence.


Associated Press freelancer Paula Bronstein contributed.

Kenosha Shooting: Girlfriend Of Victim Anthony Huber Speaks Out About Suspect Kyle Rittenhouse

By Charlie De Mar 

August 27, 2020 at 11:17 pm

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS) — Protests remained peaceful in Kenosha for a second night Thursday, and on Friday morning, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse will appear in court in Lake County, Illinois.

He is facing charges of shooting and killing two people and wounding a third during unrest in the streets of Kenosha late Tuesday night.

As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, one of those victims was remembered Thursday as a hero who tried stopping the shooter.

Anthony Huber’s friends and girlfriend, Hannah Gittings, got together Thursday at a skate park – one of the places he loved most.

“It is just a true testament to like what kind of person he was,” Gittings said.

Huber was holding a skateboard Tuesday as he chased Rittenhouse down the street.

New charging documents said the 17-year-old was running after he already shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36.

“He pushed me out of the way and ran off after him because he was not going to let anybody get taken down by some a**hole with an AR,” Gittings said.

Huber tried grabbing the rifle and hit Rittenhouse with his skateboard.

But a shot went off, hitting Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, in the chest. Huber died of the wound.

After shooting Huber, shot Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, of West Allis in the arm, prosecutors said.

“I would like to disinvite all those people that are running around with long guns,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said at a news conference earlier Thursday.

Evers and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes spoke from Kenosha.

“What do you think is going to happen if you have an agitated man with a long gun walking down the streets, thinking that he’s some sort of peacekeeper?” Barnes said.

Rittenhouse was of dozens who showed up armed, saying they were ready to protect businesses and buildings from looting and destruction.

The chaos erupted in the days following the shooting of Jacob Blake by Kenosha police. He was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey.

“He will pay for what he f***ing did – coming out here wanting to play shooter and killing innocent people and ripping away the most promising future of 26-year old man,” Gittings said. “He will pay. He will pay.”

Following the extradition hearing Friday morning in Illinois, Rittenhouse will be brought to Kenosha County face to those charges.

Marred by Trauma After George Floyd's Death, Minneapolis Hit With Second Wave of Rebellion

“It’s just going to keep going. People have a lot of anger with the police. People are frustrated with the system,” said business owner Abe Demaag.

National Guardsmen stand over a department store in Minneapolis, Minn., on Aug. 28, 2020, two days after the suicide of a homicide suspect sparked protests, rioting and confrontations with law enforcement.Ed Ou / NBC News

Aug. 30, 2020, 4:30 AM EDT

By Daniella Silva and Ed Ou

MINNEAPOLIS — Abe Demaag drove through downtown, watching people break windows and loot businesses, and he felt the sear of anguish all over again. His own furniture business had been burned down during the unrest that exploded after George Floyd died in police custody.

Floyd’s death on May 25 sparked protests around the country and a national reckoning on racial inequality and police brutality, but the city where it all began remains a powder keg of tension as traumatized residents still reeling from this summer's events look toward an uncertain future.

“It’s just going to keep going. People have a lot of anger with the police. People are frustrated with the system,” Demaag, 45, said, standing outside the charred remains of his former furniture store. “The minute we have this anger, people are going to hijack it and do other stuff again, the same thing. It’s a very scary situation.”

That anger reignited Wednesday when a homicide suspect being pursued by police fatally shot himself outside Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, sparking false rumors amid mistrust in police that the man had been gunned down by law enforcement.

Police released surveillance video of the man’s death within 90 minutes of the incident, but crowds gathered, leading to protests, looting and confrontations with police as some people began breaking into restaurants and retail stores surrounding the mall.

Gov. Tim Walz declared an emergency in Minneapolis and sent in the National Guard and more than 100 state troopers. Officers used flash-bang grenades to dispel protesters who continued to gather late into the night. More than 130 people were arrested.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered two days of curfews, though Thursday night was largely quiet with a few dozen arrests for curfew violations.

Demaag said the recent unrest felt like the initial looting, and he said business owners once again were not getting enough protection.

“We don’t want to be seeing this more again, and if you don’t have control over your city, then who has it?” he asked.

He called on city and state officials to do more to address longstanding issues over injustice and policing that had been brought to a boiling point with Floyd’s death.

“If that’s not going to be fixed, we’re going to keep suffering more and more of this trauma and things are going to be coming up again,” he said.

Demaag, an immigrant from Ethiopia, and his brother started the Chicago Furniture Warehouse almost 30 years ago, chasing their American dream of having their own business. But waves of mostly peaceful protests that swept Minneapolis after Floyd’s death were marred by several days of looting.

More than a dozen businesses near East Lake Street and Chicago Avenue were destroyed, including Demaag’s store. Overall, nearly 150 buildings were targeted and set afire, with dozens burning to the ground in Minneapolis and neighboring St. Paul, according to the Star Tribune.

Frey said Thursday in a news conference that the “killing of George Floyd has brought a torrent of pain and anguish to our entire city, to our entire nation, and has especially impacted our Black community.”

“It is righteous to vent that pain and anguish in the form of peaceful protest, but what happened last night was neither peaceful nor was it a form of protest that effectively moves us forward,” he said. “Our neighborhoods have endured an extraordinary amount of pain already this year.”

Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman, who represents the affected area downtown, said the destruction did nothing to advance racial justice in the city.

“Small, minority-owned businesses were targeted," she said. "There was no regard for the workers and the people who have put their lifeblood into these businesses."

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said it was time to restore peace and order.

“Last night we experienced compounded trauma in our city,” he said. “It’s shameful that anyone would ever try to equate the actions last night with Mr. George Floyd. Because it is not. These individuals were not peacefully protesting or assembling."

Demaag said looters initially broke into his store one evening during protests in late May and June and stole furniture. But they returned the next night, putting furniture outside and setting it on fire before burning down the whole store.

Summer is bringing a new wave of coronavirus hot spots. See how the map is changing.

The business was already struggling after being forced to close by the coronavirus pandemic and was destroyed within a week or two of reopening, he said. He has been dealing with financial and insurance issues since and feels little hope of rebuilding what was once a source of pride for his family.

“You follow the American dream thinking you want to grow bigger, you want to serve your community and your people,” he said. “It's just very distressful. Whoever hijacked the cause of the peaceful protest really did a huge damage, as you see it’s all crumbled and it’s just a very sad situation.”

Demaag said the entire neighborhood, with many Black and immigrant owners, was struggling from the damage.

“I think it’s been very traumatized because this is a neighborhood that was almost at zero and was growing fast for the better,” he said.

What remains is rubble and storefronts boarded up with plywood.

“Lake Street is a place for immigrants when they come and they could be accepted into this community," he said. "This is the place you start your dream, and now that dream is gone, shattered.”

Demaag recently founded the African Immigrant Lake Council to advocate for his community.

Sean Johnson, a member of the group and a local resident, said watching the neighborhood and Black-owned businesses burn was distressing.

The city was traumatized “to the core,” Johnson, 39, said. “It’s so unstable right now, we don’t know what’s going to happen. If something doesn’t change, it’s going to keep happening.”

Kristin Berg, a manager at Hen House Eatery, which was looted last week, said the past few months have been “a whirlwind from top to bottom.” The restaurant's windows were smashed, the liquor was cleared out and several cash registers were stolen.

“In the last couple of weeks, there’s been another tension, it’s back to where we were," Berg said. "I feel like there’s that second wave of unrest. You add emotion and true feeling to that tension, and it feels like any minute the wrong thing could set it off really bad."

“I’m not really surprised that something so close caused the powder keg to explode," she continued. "Everyone is questioning everything, it’s very uncertain. Nobody really knows who is protecting who at this point.”

Berg said she knows what she would tell the people causing the damage.

“We’re struggling right along with you," she said. "We’re working hard and we’re doing what we can, but everyone has been set back.”

She watched a livestream of the destruction and was encouraged when two men tried to stop people from breaking into her restaurant.

“It gave me so much hope sitting here on my couch feeling so hopeless,” she said.

Daniella Silva is a reporter for NBC News, specializing in immigration and inclusion issues, as well as coverage of Latin America.

Ed Ou is a breaking news and documentary producer working on special projects for NBC News.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Editorial Comment: Self-sufficiency in Agriculture Possible

30 AUG, 2020 - 00:08 

Prospects of Zimbabwe becoming food self-sufficient within the next  three years as stated by President Mnangagwa on Friday, bring good news to a country that has been ravaged by successive droughts and Cyclone Idai, compromising its ability to adequately feed its people.

The resultant poor output has seen Zimbabwe spend millions of dollars importing maize, wheat and other agricultural products to supplement local production.

These funds can be redirected to other critical needs once the country begins to produce enough.

It is about time this country stops searching for food elsewhere, but should be the one exporting to those in need, regaining its breadbasket status in southern Africa.

It is possible.

Zimbabwe has been buying maize and wheat from countries it used to export to, but we are confident this state of affairs is about to change.

The energy expended in putting in place proper strategies to increase production should yield results over the next few months and years.

The capacity is undoubted and the ingredients for increased production levels are there on the ground, hence there is no excuse for poor performance going forward.

The President’s confidence that the complexion of agriculture will change within the next three years is based on what he is seeing on the ground.

We have every reason to believe him and the onus is on all stakeholders to work towards achieving this.

This summer cropping season should be telling.

In fact, the President has been consistent in his desire for Zimbabwe to grow enough to feed its people.

He said as much at his inauguration speech on November 24, 2017 as he emphasised that this country had the stamina for self-sufficiency.

“Therefore, I exhort beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme to show their deservedness by demonstrating commitment to the utilisation of the land now available to them for national food security and for the recovery of our economy.

“They must take advantage of programmes that my Government shall continue to avail to ensure that all land is utilised optimally.

“To that end, my Government will capacitate the Land Commission so that the commission is seized with all outstanding issues related to land redistribution,” he said.

The Land Audit Committee has made recommendations to reduce farm sizes in some instances and ensure the finite resource is put to maximum use.

We applaud the Agriculture Recovery Plan which we believe is a solid foundation on which the agricultural sector will anchor.

It is one that should effectively reverse the negative production trends registered over the past few decades and ensure attainment of self-sufficiency.

The 5 000 highly productive farmers in irrigated areas targeted under the Financial Services Sector-Led Commercial Contract farming will, no doubt yield results.

Furthermore, the Pfumvudza programme under which Government targets that rural areas produce 1,8 million tonnes of cereals and 360 000  oil seeds in the 2020-21 is one strategy that should significantly feed into total output.

Each of the rural provinces is mandated to produce 225 000 tonnes of cereal and 45 000 tonnes of oil seeds.

On its part the farm mechanisation programme launched a few months ago, should be a game-changer.

Provision of such implements as tractors, combine harvesters, planters and disc harrows, among other machinery is expected to boost production levels and hence facilitate self-sufficiency.

The new Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Settlement Anxious Masuka has the experience to effectively superintend over the anticipated transformation of this sector.

Agriculture contributes 20 percent to the Gross Domestic Product and employs 33 percent of the country’s labour force.

It feeds at least 20 percent of its produce into the manufacturing sector.

Such a central role demands that the sector performs well, hence the economy.

Time for Zimbabwe to stand up and claim its rightful place in the region and on the continent at large is now.

We need to tie any loose-ends as the summer cropping season beckons. More irrigation facilities will be critical to offset effects of climate change.

Furthermore, Government should not hesitate to take away land from those that are not fully utilising it. It must be given to serious farmers intent on contributing effectively to the national breadbasket.

Recommendations by the Land Audit Committee must be implemented expeditiously in this regard.

It’s all systems go.

Zimbabwe First Lady Rallies Communities in Covid-19 Fight

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa hands over a food hamper to Chief Chiweshe (Mr Lawrence Chigariro) and his wife Josephine during an interactive Covid-19 awareness campaign with the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable at Nzvimbo High School in Chiweshe yesterday. — Picture: John Manzongo

Tendai Rupapa in CHIWESHE

Sunday Mail

PEOPLE must follow health guidelines and adhere to lockdown restrictions that are in place to prevent Covid-19, which has killed thousands of people globally and left many others jobless, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa has said.

She also addressed issues such as domestic violence, child marriages and the need to embrace the Pfumvudza agricultural programme to boost yields, which dovetail with her role as a mother who is passionate about addressing issues that affect families.

Failure to follow the restrictions, she warned, could scuttle ongoing efforts to tame the disease, which has disrupted people’s traditional way of life.

The First Lady is the country’s health ambassador with a passion for the welfare of the elderly, women and children.

She has traversed the length and breadth of the country disseminating information on how to combat the pandemic, while also distributing sanitisers, food, blankets and equipment sourced through her Angel of Hope Foundation to clinics, hospitals and various communities.

The country has been under lockdown since March, making it difficult for vulnerable groups to put food on the table, hence the First Lady’s intervention.

Amai Mnangagwa comes from Chiweshe and her visit here was more of a homecoming affair.

The mother of the nation warned villagers against breaching lockdown measures to reduce prospects of contracting Covid-19, which has so far killed close to 200 people in Zimbabwe.

“Today I have come to my home area and my people to discuss this pandemic which is wreaking havoc across the globe. I have come to talk to you and share information on this disease, which has changed our way of life.

“I urge you all to adhere to lockdown restrictions because you do not know the status of people you will be mingling with as you move about. We have a secret enemy across the globe,” the First Lady warned.

“Covid-19 has caused a lot of havoc in our lives. It has turned our lives upside down. We live with a secret enemy. It has touched our livelihoods, our health and even disrupted our social and cultural way of life. Children are not going to school as they should; families are separated.

“We are all stressed and cases of domestic violence have also increased in some homes during this lockdown.

“We cannot visit each other freely as we used to do before Covid-19, we cannot greet each other with the handshake as is our custom, we cannot hug each other and we cannot gather in large numbers at funerals and other family gatherings such as at weddings or family reunions,” she said.

Covid-19, she added, had brought about many challenges like the closure of schools, while some companies across the globe had ceased operations, causing joblessness, hence the need to take heed of the measures being taken by the Government to keep everyone safe.

“Lockdown is not a punishment, but a way of protecting everyone against this disease, which has no cure. It is now everyone’s duty to teach those who do not know about this disease. This is not Government’s responsibility alone. Let us take lockdown regulations seriously to keep the virus at bay.

“Let us all wear face masks at all times to avoid the spread of the virus. If we follow the guidelines, the pandemic will come to an end in our motherland. Even in families, if one of us is affected, let us support them not to discriminate,” she added.

Amai Mnangagwa spoke about the need to eat healthy food.

She paid tribute to the late Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister, Cde Perrance Shiri, who also came from Mashonaland Central Province, for being a hard worker.

“He was so hardworking and he encouraged people to grow crops. Covid-19 is dangerous and not selective. It took away Cde Shiri,” she said.

Amai Mnangagwa introduced a motto to the gathering, which she said was helpful in keeping the virus at bay.

“The key message yandauya nayo muzuva ranhasi ndeyekuti tese tibate mashoko ekuti: ‘I protect you and you protect me.’Ndiro donzvo richatichengeta kuti tikwanise kuzvidzivirira kuchirwere ichi,” she said.

She implored people who are hypertensive and diabetic to have regular health checks.

She spoke strongly against domestic violence, which has reared its ugly head during the lockdown period.

“Let us not hide behind Covid-19 lockdown while being troublesome in your marriages. Let us maintain peace, love one another and live together in harmony,” she said.

One elderly woman blamed domestic violence on men who spend much of their time drinking beer at the expense of their families.

“Men are causing problems in the homes. They roast meat vachidya gango at bottle stores while we wallow in poverty and hunger at home. They are also having extramarital affairs and they come home trying to compare us with their girlfriends to the point of assaulting us,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by another elderly woman who accused men of squandering money on illicit brews like kachasu.

“Men spend time drinking kachasu and come back home drunk, hurling obscenities in front of the children. What sort of image is this? Vana vacho vanodzidzei kana baba vachidaro? Thank you Amai for raising this topic,” she said.

The First Lady also spoke against child marriages, saying Mashonaland Central tops in this malpractice.

“Let these children grow and see whether they will not look after you in future. You are marrying off our future female MPs, doctors and nurses. But why marry off a 12-year-old or 14-year-old?”

The First Lady pleaded with chiefs to take a stand against child marriages and to regularly denounce such practices in their jurisdiction.

Chief Negomo, Mr Lucious Chitsinde, agreed with the First Lady’s assertions that early marriages were rife in Mashonaland Central Province.

“When such cases of child marriages are brought before our courts, we do not allow that lobola be paid. We usually discourage such marriages from proceeding, but we have challenges where some people are appealing against our rulings at the Magistrate’s courts. This has the effect of setting aside the chief’s ruling in some cases.

“Some of the cases involve elements of rape. I urge the First Lady to intervene and ensure that our courts do not accept appeals on such cases,” he said.

He also spoke strongly against domestic violence.

Gogo Edna Nyanhira was full of praises for the First Lady.

“I thank her for the food she has given us. We had no soap and were preparing our relish without cooking oil, but she has remembered us. We are also happy she spoke against child marriages, such cases are taking place in our community. Children are being married off at tender ages and we hope there will be drastic change since the First Lady has spoken against this.”

Minister of State for Mashonaland Central Provincial Affairs Monica Mavhunga praised the First Lady’s undying efforts to improve the welfare of the country’s citizenry.

“I am grateful for your visit. Your love for the country’s citizens is awesome. We do not know how you manage this but you have great love and you assist everyone in need. We had 139 cases of Covid-19 in this province, out of which 108 recovered, while three died.

“We are going on with the building of Mvurwi Hospital and isolation centres. We are, however, in need of ventilators and personal protective equipment for frontline workers. We remain grateful for your support and the assistance we get from the Government.

“As a province, we appreciate the teachings you have given countrywide and are following the advice. We are also thankful for the foodstuffs you have brought us. Our elderly no longer had food but you have a big heart to make us survive. We also thank the President for allowing you to go around the country doing your work.”

Mazowe Central legislator Cde Sydney Chidamba also thanked the First Lady for the visit.

“We welcome you heartily and the elderly are happy and proud that they raised a cultured person like you. We love you Amai. You are going around with your awareness campaign with the aim of keeping the country healthy. This can only be done by someone with great love like yourself,” he said.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe, who is also Mazowe West legislator and ZANU PF’s Mashonaland Central chair, praised the First Lady for her magnanimity.

“You have great love and we have seen you traversing the length and breadth of the country preaching love.

“You are not selective and you help everyone in need countrywide. Keep up the good work, which has a bearing on the health of the people of Zimbabwe. You are blind to political and religious affiliation.

“No one used to travel to Kanyemba, which is in our province, but your love has made you remember the people of Kanyemba. We thank you for your Covid-19 teachings and the seed of love you have planted here,” said Minister Kazembe.

To date, the First Lady’s awareness campaigns have positively impacted thousands of lives empowered through vital knowledge that has enabled them to protect themselves against the virus.

The elderly, the disabled and other vulnerable groups walked away with blankets, assortment of foodstuffs and toiletries, thanks to the mother of the nation.

Methodist Church’s Masimba edenga, Marimba edenga and the Police Band provided entertainment, and the First Lady joined the gathering in song and dance.